Whitehall's bid to save £50m, one paperclip at a time

Tax collectors have set up "swap shops" to redistribute surplus envelopes and briefcases. In one Whitehall outpost, staff are using ash from their bio-mass burner as garden fertiliser. Elsewhere, Home Office officials have taken to generating electricity from bootleg alcohol.

It might sound like a roll-call of clandestine efforts by cash-strapped public servants to make a few quid, but they are in fact a sample of the laudable – if offbeat – measures adopted across the Civil Service to reduce environmental waste and put £50m back into public coffers.

An audit of progress on a government pledge that all 21 Whitehall ministries and their associated agencies will significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2015 has laid bare the economies and slightly unusual practices now routinely followed in the name of green bureaucracy.

At Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), staff have solved the age-old problem of what to do with excess paper clips and other unused items cluttering up the stationery cupboard by setting up an online service where items from one corner of the taxman's empire can be offered to other needier parts.

Among the goods that have been re-homed by the intranet swap shop – albeit after the inevitable checks to ensure they comply with health and safety and data security rules – are staplers, a portable projector screen, a hard hat, briefcases and a supply of triangular bandages. Such has been the success of the scheme that the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions have set up similar schemes.

At Home Office facilities which dispose of ill-gotten gains confiscated from members of the public, they shred contraband cigarettes and pour bootleg booze into an anaerobic digester to make electricity, and burn seized oil to power cement furnaces.

Fake trainers and boots have been ground up and used to resurface racehorse training areas.

Behind these more innovative methods for trimming waste lies a general campaign which ministers insist shows the Government is setting an example for how British businesses could save £28bn through the better use of resources.

Oliver Letwin, the minister for Government Policy, said: "Britain is in a global race and Whitehall cannot afford to waste a single penny so I'm pleased to see the way departments have responded to our challenge."

The bulk of Whitehall savings, some £40m, comes from more efficient heating and lighting designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There has also been a 36 per cent drop in the use of domestic flights and a 24 per cent reduction in paper use, much of it by switching to double-side photocopying.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker